Renter's Insurance Probably Won't Cover You From A Bad Subletter

When we wrote about the glories of subletting your apartment while on vacation, we mused that renter’s insurance might cover it if your guest damages or steals stuff. While talking to USAA today about our renter’s insurance policy we asked them about this and they said nope, it doesn’t. You’re still protected from all the normal things, like fire, flood, and falling space probes, but not by the actions of someone you’ve invited into your home. So, we’ll just continue to beware and use our best judgment and not sublet to sketchy people. Other people with lower risk tolerances will disagree, and we’re okay with that.

PREVIOUSLY: Renting Out Your Apartment On Vacation For Fun And Profit
(Photo: Ben Popken)


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  1. ceejeemcbeegee is not here says:

    So if a guest at my holiday party steals my “Alvin & the Chipmunks Christmas” CD, I’m S.O.L.? ;-)

  2. TehRev says:

    For me the money != risk.

    All my stuff + my pets. Maybe I am just an untrusting person, but I wouldn’t let a stranger pay to live there. Seems to me a super easy way to get scammed.

  3. scarletvirtue says:

    That’s right – the renter’s policy will not cover your contents if you sublet to someone else.

    In the words of a CA renter’s policy: “Personal Property we do not cover – Property in a location regularly rented or held for rental to other by any insured…”

    Also, if you have roomers, boarders or anyone else not related to you – their property isn’t covered under your policy.

    Of course, this is for California – your state (and policy) may vary.

  4. scarletvirtue says:

    @ceejeemcbeegee: I’d almost think that if you have renter’s insurance, the deductible would be far higher than the cost of the CD! And honestly, who would steal such a quality CD? ;-)

  5. TehRev says:

    I hope the debate rages on in this post too. I thought it was a clearly bad idea the way it was presented in the last post but one of the many points that people used to say it was ok was insurance coverage.

    why anyone thought it would be covered in the first place is amazing to me. Its an insurance company.

  6. humphrmi says:

    You guys all bashing the victim here just make me sick.

    Oh wait. Nevermind.

  7. r12ski says:

    Actually you are not covered by a flood. I rent an apartment where the owner of the building has both homeowners and flood insurance and I had only renters insurance and when it flooded all the personal property that was damaged was not covered. As a renter, you also need separate flood insurance. It should also be noted that any area below ground level is not covered in a flood, no matter if it is a living area or not.

  8. Parting says:

    I’m sure you still can insure if you use commercial policy.
    You turn a profit from the rent, so it’s like a business.
    However, be ready to pay much more for the policy.

  9. emona says:

    Just do what I do: never let anyone into your apartment. If a dinner or conversation can’t be done on the front stairs, it ain’t worth having.

  10. scarletvirtue says:

    @chouchou: True – but someone can make money from the rental, maybe enough to break even on the expenses and such.

  11. scarletvirtue says:

    @quarterly: I love your idea!

    Considering that I tend to be antisocial, I’d much rather have people just sit and chatter in the front hallway of my apartment building. That way, I can kick them out when I get bored, or tired.

  12. realserendipity says:

    The USAA renters policy is a little different than most policies in that it does indeed cover flood damage. Its against industry standard but something they do for thier members. Ive double checked this one and its right in the contract

  13. Gev says:

    Part of me wants to say that if you’ve got to rent out your home while you’re out on vacation to help finance said vacation that you probably should consider a slightly less expensive trip.

    But in reality I just don’t like the idea of someone being in my personal space while I’m not there.

  14. cSam says:

    A lot of college students rent apartments, and a great number of said college students sublet their places over summer break or if they go abroad, usually because they can’t afford to be paying for a place they’re not staying in. So sometimes it’s not an option to rent out your apartment. My advice is to make sure you sign a sublease agreement, that might cover you better than renter’s insurance would. And always screen the people who are renting from you; I don’t know why on Earth the original article says to give the keys to a friend if you can’t get it to the person, you should ALWAYS meet someone who will be staying in your place beforehand.

  15. Hawk07 says:

    Oh dammit, I just opened a policy with USAA too.

    One thing that was funny to me was that when I called and asked the insurance rep where I could find the details of the policy on the website, she said, “It describes it in general terms on the website, but once you sign up for the policy, you’ll get a more detailed insurance policy in the mail.”

    Huh? So, I have no idea what the terms are until I actually buy the policy?

    Exactly….I have a $250 deductible, but only until I received my policy in the mail does it say that it’s $250 for most things, and $975 deductible for Earthquakes. Luckily I don’t like in an earthquake prone area, but I still feel deceived by USAA. All while signing up for the policy they kept pushing $250 even on the phone.

    And also on insurance, I know the military folks really like to push it as being cheaper than everywhere else. Not true by any means. The Geico commercials proved to be true compared to USAA’s rates (you know a 15 minute call could save you 15% or more on car insurance). We called another agency and managed to save even more. Overall, we switched from 25 years or so of coverage with USAA to another competitor and saved about $100 a month despite having even MORE coverage than what USAA gives. Usually the reps usually try to sign me up for more products whenever I call them up about anything, but I tell them their rates are too high for auto.

  16. RandomHookup says:

    @Hawk07: Are you talking about USAA auto insurance rates or renters insurance that can be had for cheaper than USAA?

  17. r12ski says:

    @realserendipity: wow an insurance company that actually covers something, who knew? but just a heads up for people with other ins. companies who rent. I have learned the hard way that you actually need to read the 80 pages of drivel they send you.

  18. Hawk07 says:


    I’m sorry I didn’t make that clear. I realized when I went into the auto insurance area, I didn’t specifically call it out.

    At first I was talking about renters insurance and how they don’t have on the website the actual legal terms of the policy and what will and won’t be covered, etc. until you actually BUY the policy. Then it’s mailed. I think they said you can always cancel it, but again, why not just put the policy in an easy to read PDF or something before I buy it?

    Second, in my family’s case, yes, you can get auto insurance cheaper from their competitors compared to getting it from USAA. I know many service personel tend to push USAA as a benefit of the military and how the “auto insurance is the cheapest out there.” This is not true by any means.

    Like I said, we get more coverage for less money with a USAA competitor. When we canceled our policy, we spoke with one of their more senior people and laid it out about how we were 20+ year customers, had ZERO auto claims over that period, etc. They still tried to get us to resign and emphasized their good CS, but we told them to shove it. Oh yeah, we’re in their home market of San Antonio too. So it’s not like we’re in the middle of Beverly Hills or something and USAA doesn’t really know how to properly assess insurance rates when people are driving exotic cars right next to you.